It's October 25, 2003. It's early in the morning on a gorgeous fall Saturday morning. I pull into a park-n-ride to meet a group of people I don't know to go on a hike on Mt. Pilchuk. As I pull into a parking space, I spy a very cute girl getting stuff from the trunk of her car. I think to myself that I hope she's going on this hike. She is. Her name turns out to be Aimee Richmond.
|A quick kiss before the |
We ride in the same car on the carpool ride to the trailhead (I arranged that intentionally). We chat. I like her. She seems more or less indifferent to me.
We begin the hike. Although her legs are MUCH shorter than mine and so she hikes a lot slower, I use the excuse of a healing sprained ankle to hike at her pace. We talk a lot, stop at the same places to take photos, and have a nice time. I ignore every other person in our group. At the top, she realizes that although I'm carrying a decent sized day pack, it's mostly full of camera gear and a bit short on food. She laughs at me and offers some of hers, but since hers is all healthy (I recall a bag of sliced bell peppers), I politely decline. She teases me some more, and soon we begin the hike back.
It's October 31, 2003. Halloween. We've agreed to meet at a singles party (cruise on Lake Union here in Seattle). I arrived to see quite a few girls dressed in various slinky and revealing costumes. I eventually find Aimee. She's dressed as a hockey player, complete with bulky pads, facemask, black eye and blacked out teeth. Clearly she's not operating on the idea that she needs to show a lot of sex appeal to meet guys. Go figure, she also has 4-5 guys surrounding her, chatting her up. Slightly daunted by my competition, I nonetheless approach her and say hi, hoping she remembers that we agreed to meet up here (though we did not go together, so it's not a date). She does remember, and I join the group.
|"So, we did it. We're |
It's March 17, 2004. We've just come back to my apartment after hanging out with some people for St. Patrick's Day. At one point I stop, look her right in the eyes and softly say, "Aimee, I love you." She smiles so sweetly, nods a little and says, "I love you, too." It is the first time we exchange those words.
It's April 2005. We're in San Diego on a long weekend trip. The last day we're there, we're sitting at an IHOP eating breakfast, and Aimee starts to cry (happily). I ask her if everything's alright, and she smiles and says yes, but offers no details. I let it go. A few days later, while having dinner with her, she tells me that she'd had an epiphany. She feels that God spoke to her that morning at IHOP and told her I would be the guy she'd marry. She hadn't felt that way about me before that point, but she knew it now.
I was caught off guard, and had received no such message from the Almighty. I had also passed the 'window' in which I'd wanted to get married and start a family. I had decided to stay single. But, I DID love her. I needed time.
She gave it to me, until she got tired of waiting and left me.
About four months later.
Two months after that, I reached a point of crisis and asked God for a sign, and I'll be damned, He gave it to me. The next day I told Aimee that if she still wanted me, I was ready. She did.
|"She's Got a Way", by Billy Joel, |
was our first dance
It's Thanksgiving Day, 2005. I called her father and asked his permission to marry Aimee. I tell him I will take great care of her, protect her, and provide for whatever she needed. I tell him I love her.
He gave me his blessing.
It's December 23, 2005. I officially proposed to her as we opened Christmas presents at my apartment (she was leaving for her parent's home in Indiana the next day). Although I was sure of her answer, I was still nervous. I needn't have been. She said yes.
It's April 29, 2006. I get dressed up in a tuxedo. Aimee gets dressed up in a pretty white dress. We meet at a gorgeoous stone church in Tacoma, WA (St. Luke's Episcopal Church). Aimee Richmond became Aimee Rhoads, and I became the luckiest S.O.B. alive.
Since that time, April 29 has come and gone five times. Each one was better than the one before it. Aimee gave 100% of herself to our marriage, and taught me how to do the same.
"Til death do us part." Wow, when you say that to someone, and you're in your 30's, you assume that will be SO far away, so long from where you are right now. You envison a long life together, raising children, building a life filled with happy memories (and some sad ones too - life isn't perfect for any of us). You imagine years of family vacations, date nights, soccer games, dance recitals, and other milestones.
|We were so happy, and it only got better|
You do not envision 'til death do us part' coming five and half years later.
You do not imagine having to sit your three year old daughter down and tell her mommy is dead.
And you do not imagine her telling you four months later that she wishes she'd died when mommy did so she could be in heaven with her.
There have been five great April 29th's since Aimee and I got married. On none of them did I ever think that April 29 would ever be such a sad, sad day.